NEW DATA ON STERLET (Acipenser ruthenus L.) GENETIC DIVERSITY IN THE MIDDLE AND LOWER DANUBE SECTIONS, BASED ON MITOCHONDRIAL DNA ANALYSES
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Poor regulated fishery, pollution, fragmentation and loss of habitat are most important factors influencing decline of sterlet population worldwide. In Middle and Lower Danube region, this species still have significant economic importance since wilde populations are commercially exploited, while Upper Danube populations are dependent on stocking efforts in order to maintain their presence in open waters. Aim of present study is to analyze genetic diversity of sterlet populations from the Middle and Lower Danube and Lower Tisza rivers, as a prerequisite for their effective conservation and management. Analysis of a highly variable D-loop fragment of mitochondrial DNA detected five new haplotypes, while the eight previously identified haplotypes had extended their previous range. Genetic variability could be attributed almost entirely to individuals, with observed lack of population structure. Negative values of neutrality test indicate recent expansion on some sampling locations. Adittionaly, gene flow analysis between Lower and Middle Danube region showed intensive exchange of speciemens. At the same time analysis showed some influence of Tisza dam on gene flow between samples from Tisza and Middle Danube section. Our study indicated the need for a careful planning of sterlet stocking programmes and inclusion of demographic data or catch time-series.